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When I first started testing lots of perfumes, I really didn't enjoy chypres. My inexperienced nose found them baffling and overly complex and vaguely old-fashioned. With time, I grew to enjoy them as I learned to recognize not only the bergamot and labdanum and moss, but also the special way they interact and the subtle ways they change with the addition of other ingredients.
Now, fast-forward to today, and I feel similarly about natural perfumes. They're dense and they confuse me and I don't really enjoy them because I can't smell beyond the multi-layered complexity. Malmaison is a perfect example of this. It's got rose, jasmine, tuberose, and neroli - it's a who's who of fantastic floral notes and I can't smell any of them. Instead, it all comes together in my brain as a sort of green/brown/pink goop, kind of sweet yet very earthy. Something like sweet decaying forest dirt, but also somehow fishy. When I think of "that natural perfume smell", this is a perfect example.
I look forward to coming back to Malmaison years from now when I'm ready for it, but it's not really doing much for me right now. But once I'm ready to recognize its beauty, I'm confident that it will reward me.
15 October, 2012